Its weeks like this past one that make college football the greatest sport on the face of the Earth. Before we kicked off the games on Saturday Alabama was unbeatable, Auburn had a good offense & Ohio State was the unquestioned number one team in the land. Here we are on the following Wednesday and Alabama has been beaten twice by a team that has never done so, Auburn is making a quarterback change & the Buckeyes have struggled mightily two weeks in a row to non-Power 5 teams.
State of Washington – It’s not very often that both the Washington Huskies AND the Washington State Cougars have won on the same day. To be quite honest, over the last decade it’s been rare that either of them win at all but Saturday was one of the rare occasions that each of them had big wins. In the last two seasons there have been only two days where each school had wins over FBS opponents on the same day. The Washington Huskies were up by 7 at the break and ran away with it in the second half and the Husky defense forced two interceptions from a pretty good quarterback in Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton. Offensively, Washington out-gained the Aggies 442 to 254 and threw for almost 400 yards. The Wyoming Cowboys took the lead over the Washington State Cougars at the end of the 1st quarter but it was all Wazzou after that as Mike Leach’s bunch finished the game with 24 unanswered points. The Cowboys actually out-gained the Cougars but in the end Washington State was just too much.
Florida Gators – Here we are heading into Week 4 of the 2015 college football season and Jim McElwain’s group is sitting pretty at 3-0 with a conference win under their belt already and we aren’t even out of September yet. The Gators haven’t been 3-0 to start the season since 2012 when they wound up in the Sugar Bowl and so far this season they’ve looked pretty good. On defense they are 11th nationally in total defense (2nd in the SEC), 7th nationally in rush defense (1st in the SEC) and 28th in team passing efficiency on defense (3rd in the SEC). The Gators have held teams to 13, 21 & 9 points respectively this season but the offense has to get better. Like a lot of teams around the country, the Gator coaching staff hasn’t truly settled on a quarterback yet but will need to figure something out when the Volunteers visit The Swamp this Saturday.
Pac-12 Conference – Anytime the conference is able to get some key out of conference wins, it’s good. When Colorado, Oregon State & Washington State get in on the action, it’s even better. The Pac-12 finished Week 3 with an 11-1 record with the only loss being to another Pac-12 team. The two obvious headliners of the weekend were Stanford’s road win at USC who was ranked 6th at the time and California’s road victory in Austin over the dysfunctional Longhorns to reach the 3-0 plateau for the first time since 2011. The Colorado Buffalos have two wins already in 2015 after a 27-24 overtime victory over in-state rival Colorado State. The Buffaloes only had two wins all of last season so having already matches last year’s win total is quite the accomplishment considering they didn’t need an FCS team to do it. Oregon State scored 21 unanswered points against San Jose State for the 35-21 win and Washington State was able to run away with a win against Wyoming. No they weren’t playing NFL teams or anything but an 11-1 record for the weekend is SFR-worthy.
State of Alabama – We have been keeping a close eye to the western horizon to make sure that the Cotton State hasn’t begun to burn down after one of the most agonizing weekends of college football in recent memory. The Auburn Tigers started the day in Baton Rouge against the LSU Tigers and from what I can tell still haven’t tackles Leonard Fournette who proved to just be a freight train running up and down the field Tiger Stadium. It was 24-0 before Auburn could limp back into the locker room to discuss how to lick their wounds. They did score right out of the gate in the second half but LSU answered with two scores of their own to ice the game in the 1,000 degree heat. Later than night, about 350 miles away the Alabama Crimson Tide decided to start their backup quarterback and for the most part played like it as Alabama was unable to keep pace with the Ole Miss Rebels to the point where the Tide were down by nearly 20 points at home in the 4th quarter after surrendering 5 turnovers. I don’t know which part of that last sentence is least like the defending SEC champions. Then throw in the fact that Troy was clobbered in Madison, Wisconsin, by the Badgers 28-3 and it just made Saturday a rough day in Alabama. The only good news is that the South Alabama Jaguars got a big road overtime win at San Diego State 34-27.
UCF Knights – Things are getting bad in Orlando. Before the season Athletic Director Todd Stansbury left to become the new Athletic Director at Oregon State & the school figured it would be a good idea to hand the position over to head football coach George O’Leary, who deserves all the praise in the world for what he’s done with the UCF football program. It has been a disaster. The Knights have started the season 0-3 with an opening season loss to Florida International where UCF squandered a late 14-3 lead. It all came to a head this past Saturday when the Knights were defeated 16-15 at home by FCS Furman. Then yesterday, the Knights dismissed All-AAC running back William Stanback from the team after his third positive drug test. Stanback led the Knights in rushing in 2014 with 697 yards and 10 touchdowns. Things are getting really bad down in Orlando, especially since it looks like Florida & Miami are getting back on their feet again and that FAU, FIU & rival USF are allegedly turning the corner.
Atlantic Coast Conference – The three top-billed ACC teams had national audiences on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday afternoon and failed to impress. Clemson struggled on the road at 0-2 Louisville and after the first offensive series, the Florida State Seminoles must have thought the rest of the game was going to be played on Saturday. Clemson finished the game with a 20-17 win and Florida State eventually won 14-0. On Saturday, one of the marquee match ups in the nation was Notre Dame & Georgia Tech in South Bend and Paul Johnson’s team laid a big ole egg right in front of Touchdown Jesus losing 30-22, with 15 of the Yellow Jackets’ point coming in the 4th quarter when the game was over. Wake Forest needed a field goal at West Point to beat Army, Pittsburgh was beaten by a long field goal in Iowa City, Syracuse needed overtime to beat Central Michigan, Miami allowed 23 points in the 4th quarter and needed overtime to beat Nebraska, William & Mary took Virginia to the wire & Duke looked awful at home against Northwestern. The only two teams who looked good on Saturday were Virginia Tech & Illinois who were beating up on Big Ten teams. Ouch.
Game of the Week – Ole Miss over Alabama 43-37 in Tuscaloosa – This was the game of the weekend in most people’s minds and for once, it lived up to be a great game to watch, especially since Ole Miss wore one of my favorite helmets in all of college football: the ‘Old Blue’ helmets. Both teams were feeling each other out in the first quarter but after that Ole Miss exploded to take a 17-10 lead into halftime. The third quarter was all Rebels/Black Bears as Ole Miss poured on 13 points to take a 30-10 lead, including the play of the year so far. Early in the 3rd quarter the Rebels were facing 3rd and 1 on their own 34-yard line and Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly let a high shotgun snap pop high in the air and by the time he was able to get his hands on it again, the Bama defense was bearing down. Kelly had enough time to catch it and fire it over towards an area where there were two Ole Miss receivers & two Alabama defenders. It bounced off the outstretched hands of Ole Miss wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell, off of freshman Alabama corner back Minkah Fitzpatrick’s helmet and into the hands of Ole Miss junior wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo who raced 56 yards to the end zone. It took Alabama about ten minutes of game time to mentally and emotionally recover from that play and did manage a pretty interesting rally in the 4th quarter but it was too little, too late as the Rebels walked out of Bryan-Denny Stadium with a 43-37 victory, having defeated the Crimson Tide twice in a road for the first time in school history.
Player of the Week – LSU RB Leonard Fournette – There are no words to describe how well Fournette played on Saturday nor are there any words to describe his final touchdown run of the 1st half where he broke multiple tackles before barreling an Auburn defender into another dimension on his way to the end zone. Earlier in the week, Auburn defensive back Rudy Ford made the comment that ‘it shouldn’t be that difficult’ to tackle the sophomore MonStar running back from LSU. I’m sure those words have come back to haunt Ford in the last couple days but if I were defensive back Blake Countess, I’d really have a problem with them because it appeared that Fournette took out a lot of his frustrations with the comments on the poor freshman. Leonard Fournette finished the day with 228 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns and the driver’s seat in the Heisman race.
Coach of the Week – Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly & Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder – In what many felt was going to be the first loss of the season for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, Kelly & VanGorder had their team ready to play & in the end, played their best most complete game of the season. Notre Dame was starting their redshirt freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer who looked good against Virginia but allegedly, the Yellow Jackets would be a much stiffer test than the Cavaliers. No one told Kizer that who looked poised all game long and performed as well as a redshirt freshman in his first start against a ranked opponent could look. Head Coach & quarterback guru Brian Kelly had him ready to play. On defense, Notre Dame was supposed to be a lot better this year than they were last year and against the Yellow Jackets offense, now I believe it. The Irish defense smothered Georgia Tech’s triple option attack all afternoon and held them to only 216 yards rushing which is a feat unto itself. It was a heckuva coaching job by those two last week in preparation for their first ranked opponent of the season.
Uniform of the Week – Colorado Buffaloes/North Carolina Tar Heels – For the first time that I can remember, the Buffaloes went all storm trooper on us with all white including the helmets which in theory I was skeptical about but once I saw them, I was sold. North Carolina has somehow found ways to ruin an unbelievable color scheme with too much navy blue but Saturday they hit a home run with the combination of white pants, Carolina Blue jerseys and the white helmet. The new argyle pattern on the pants, collars & helmets is a nice touch also. Both of these teams looked fantastic on Saturday.
Honorable Mention – Indiana Hoosiers – A few years ago the Hoosiers introduced a handful of helmets that are still God awful but Saturday they unveiled a baseball script style helmet that should be used every Saturday as their prime helmet in my personal opinion.
Dud Uniform of the Week – No One – Believe it or not, not a single team looked terrible over the weekend uniform-wise. Trust me, I scoured every game for a team who decided to go off the grid and do something stupid but alas, every team decided to go with a solid look for their games over the weekend. It doesn’t happen often but for now, no dud uniforms this week. Bravo, everyone gets a cookie. Now watch next week be the week that hideous uniforms show up everywhere.